Chapter Five: For The Public Good
As the agent drew his car onto the front forecourt of Misfits Music, he
realised that he had arrived just in time, for Jewel had just left the building,
laughing and joking about something as they headed towards Nancy's car.
"Sadie!" Alex pushed open the door of his vehicle, climbing out and waving to get her attention. "I'm glad I caught you - you have plans?"
"No...we were just going to grab lunch somewhere nicer than the canteen." Sadie disentangled herself from the group, coming to greet him. "What are you doing here? I thought you were busy with that homicide this morning?"
"Well, it's almost tied up. Actually, I came to see you for another reason." Alex looked grim. "It might be as well I speak to all of you, in fact."
"Is this a business visit?" Sadie's blue eyes became alarmed. "You never use that tone when you've just stopped by to hang out."
"Possibly. Or it could become one." Alex pursed his lips. "I'm not sure just as yet. Cynthia working today?"
"Yes. She's helping Aaron with the new network, so disturb her at your peril." Sylva's voice came from behind him, and he turned, casting the synth player a smile. "Hi, Alex. What brings you here?"
"Work, apparently." Sadie frowned. "And I think it might be serious. Alex, why do you want to know about Cynthia?"
"Because my reason for coming to you involves her." Alex paused, waiting for the remainder of the musicians to join the group, then, "I just took a call from Starlight Music."
"Starlight...Music?" Topaz exchanged looks with Sylva, then, "What would they have to do with us?"
"Daisy Buchan was scheduled to play your show last night - Sadie, you told me as much when I called you to wish you luck yesterday." Alex said slowly. "And I believe that Starlight Music was represented there because of that. You were also there, correct?"
"And who else?"
"Alex, what is this about?" Nancy demanded. "Why all the questions, what are you trying to find out?"
"Answer the questions and we'll both know." Alex said laconically. "Who was working your set last night? Aaron?"
"No..no." Copper shook her head. "Cynthia. Nancy and I helped her, because Aaron was tied up here. But I don't see..."
"Don't you?" Alex's tone became grim. "Then let me enlighten you. Jerrica Pacheco was on the phone to me just half an hour ago, in some state about her father's computer. Synergy."
"So what has that to do with us?" Sylva folded her arms. "Or Cynthia?"
Alex sighed, shaking his head.
"You don't need to protect her." He said quietly. "I know that Cynthia is Synergy. What I want to know is why Jerrica is in such a state about it this morning."
"What?" Sadie's eyes opened wide. "What do you mean, you know that Cynthia is Synergy? I never said anything of the sort to you!"
"No, you didn't." Alex agreed levelly. "Cynthia herself did."
He cast Copper a glance, then, "When Copper was abducted, Cynthia gambled her identity with me in order to help me pull up a match on my computer system for the guy involved. Without her help, we might not have been able to track him down."
"You never said anything to me." Sadie was startled. Alex shrugged.
"Nor did you to me." He reminded her. "It's a secret, and I'm a federal agent. Discretion is part of my job."
He pursed his lips. "But this bothers me. If it had been Ray who spoke to Ms Pacheco this morning, then we'd have a major problem on our hands. As it is, I'm betraying my own responsibilities as an agent of the law and not following this up in the manner that I really should be. I have no desire to bring Synergy into federal custody...and I'm going to do all I can to placate Jerrica and bury this back in the cold case file. That's not only unethical, it's against everything I stand for in this job. So, considering that, I think you should tell me - and I mean with all honesty - what happened at the show last night that could have freaked Jerrica out so badly. I'm game to take a risk and protect her, if I know that this is all a misunderstanding. But I can't sit back and say nothing if she becomes a threat to people...and Jerrica certainly sounded threatened."
Nancy bit her lip.
"There wasn't really an incident." She began slowly. "I mean, there was no actual violence."
"It was Jerrica who made the threats. Cynthia was angry, but she didn't do anything to Jerrica." Copper added.
"Let me judge that, please?" Alex asked quietly. "Nancy, what were you saying?"
"Jerrica came backstage to talk to us...we don't know why, but we think maybe her newest signing bitched to her about us. She and I have a history."
"She gave us some...advice." Copper added. "And then she asked about our lightning engineer, because apparently Starlight Music are without. Cynthia got a bit heated and gave herself away. There was nothing else...but Jerrica said then that she was going to stop this once and for all. We thought she meant the press. We didn't think she meant you."
"Well, fortunately for you, she and I have met before." Alex said quietly. "She asked for me or Ray because we investigated this after the Memorial. I don't feel good that I'm betraying her trust in me by covering this up, that's for sure. I haven't even told Ray. But it might be beyond my capabilities to keep it buried. I'm meeting with the woman tomorrow. If I go back to Ray and tell him that the lead was dead, then I've broken an unwritten code between federal agents and their partners about honesty, too. And it might not be enough. Jerrica might not take my assurances that there's no trace of the machine. If she really saw Cynthia, and knows who she is...I don't know what she might do. You should be prepared."
Sadie eyed her boyfriend soberly. Then, gently, she kissed him.
"Thank you for realising that protecting Cynnie is so important. I don't think she meant you to be in such a position over her when she made you promise." She said softly. "We all thought the file dead and buried. None of us expected this."
"Well, that's the thing with cold case files. They have a bad habit of rearing their ugly heads." Alex said ruefully. "I could lose my badge and my job for this, so I'd appreciate it if you could tell Cynthia to be careful and keep a low profile for a while. I'll do my best, but I need her cooperation too."
"Don't worry. We'll tell her." Sylva assured him.
"Good." he said, relief evident in his tone. "Listen, girls. Between you and me, I don't consider Cynthia a threat to anyone in her current capacity. But she's going to have to be more careful about how she acts around people she used to know. I mean it."
"And we're not going to let her forget it." Topaz said firmly.
"Well, with that out of the way, I also came to ask you if you wanted to grab some lunch?" Alex turned his attention back to his girlfriend, who nodded her head.
"If you're paying, it beats going splits in town." She said, her eyes twinkling. "Let's go."
"Well, looks like it's just the four of us splitting the cheque this lunchtime." Nancy observed dryly, as the couple headed away towards Alex's vehicle. "What it is to have a boyfriend with a big expenses tab."
"You think Alex puts his dates with Sadie on expenses?" Topaz raised an eyebrow. "Isn't that cheating the system?"
"I'm not sure...it depends if he counts the little chat we just had as within working hours." Copper grinned. "What kind of pay do Federal Agents get, anyhow?"
"He's taking a big risk for us, isn't he?" Sylva remarked, as they climbed into Nancy's car. Copper nodded.
"He is, but then, what else can he do?" She asked. "I didn't know that she'd revealed herself to him on my account, and I'm grateful that she cared enough to do it. But Alex is a man of his word, and he won't break that promise unless he really feels Cynthia is putting people at risk. All we have to do is make sure she keeps her holographic head down and leaves Jerrica alone."
"Considering that, it's probably a good idea that she didn't go for my idea of talking to Jerrica face to face." Topaz looked rueful. "If Jerrica's in that much of a flap, she'd probably see it as a full frontal attack of some kind."
"Jerrica's a weirdo. We've always known that." Nancy made a dismissive gesture, putting her key in the ignition and revving up the engine. "She's just never been a weirdo who's much crossed our paths, that's all. We've spent five years in this business and the worst Starlight Music has managed to do is create a press fiasco by almost going into full scale meltdown. Why should this change any of that? If Alex is on the case, Cynthia's secret is safe. It's like Copper said - Alex is a man of his word."
"You think she's all right, then?" Sylva pursed her lips.
Nancy paused, then shrugged.
"Honestly? I don't know." She said at length. "But Jerrica is insane...we do know that. She'd have to be. Living as two people for that many years? Mom once told me she'd had a major breakdown at least once during their time as rival bands...one where she and Rio took off somewhere and noone heard a thing about her for ages. Then she came back and suddenly Jem 'drove off a bridge'."
"I dunno. It seems like a good way of ridding yourself of a persona you no longer wanted." Topaz mused. Copper shook her head.
"I always got the impression it was something else." She said slowly. "Mama's hinted at it, since the Memorial, and Cynthia too. Jerrica lost track of who was who - was she Jerrica or was she Jem? The only way to finally decide who she was going to be was to kill one of the two of them off. Jem had been missing for a year anyway..."
"So she chose Jem." Sylva concluded. She frowned. "And then screwed up the Holograms and my Aunt Aja's life by turning into the demon director at Starlight Music. God, maybe Jerrica should've been the one to go off the bridge, and not Jem. From what I know from Mom, at least Jem used to know how to have a good time."
"It's not our place to judge that." Copper chided. "What is our business is protecting our friend from further intrusion. Perhaps we need to start thinking of a backup plan - a cover story for Cynthia, should her identity come under any more scrutiny."
"What, like...like a history? Where she came from and who she is?" Nancy asked. Copper spread her hands.
"Why not?" She asked. "She's always called herself Cynthia Benton, and the world accepts that. We know she was programmed with a digital likeness to Jerrica and Kimber's mother Jacqui, so nobody has ever questioned her connection. But they might, guys. Cynthia was created after Jacqui died. Even if people accept she's as flesh and blood as you and I, there is no way Jacqui could be her mother."
"But Emmet could still be her father." Topaz pointed out.
"Yes...and since it's the only thing we've got to go from, maybe that's where we need to start." Copper agreed. "And hope the resemblance isn't a problem. When I look at Cyn, even in her current form, I can see where Emmet pulled in bits of his late wife because I've seen Jerrica and Kimber as young women in my mother's photo albums."
"Well, I vote we discuss it with her when we get home tonight." Sylva said at length. "We'll tell her what Alex said, and see if she has any ideas. If anyone knows what happened in the years after Jacqui died, Cynthia does. Maybe she already has some idea of a cover story hidden away inside her mainframe."
"Syl's right." Topaz responded. "And at least it's a plan. After all, Alex might well be able to get Jerrica off our - and Cynthia's - case. But just in case he can't, it won't hurt to have a plan B thought out. You know. Just in case we need it."
Chapter One: Daisy
Chapter Two: Jewel's Show
Chapter Three: Cynthia's Dilemma
Chapter Four: Jerrica Acts
Chapter Five: For The Public Good
Chapter Six: End Of An Era
Chapter Seven: A Reason To Be
Chapter Eight: Loyalties
Chapter Nine: Starlight Music
Chapter Ten: Kimber
Chapter Eleven: Consulting Aja
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
The copyright for the original Jem characters featured in this and other stories by me belongs entirely to Hasbro and their interpretations to Christy Marx and the other writers of the Sunbow Jem series. Their future selves are based on concepts that are entirely my own and are not to be repeated elsewhere without due permission.
All other characters, including their likenesses, are copyrighted to myself as webmistress of Jewel's World from 2001 to the present day and are not to be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
The Teenangel Outsiders, Jesta, Flame, Ryan Montgomery and the future interpretations of Aja, Danse and certain of the other original characters are all or in part the concept of Gemma Dawn whose teenangel outsider fiction world is twinned with Jewel's World. You can visit her site at www.teenangeloutsiders.com!
All events in the stories on this site are based on original ideas and are not rooted in any existing Jem fiction nor in any real life event or person.